The Phantom of the Opera appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though parts of the image looked very good, nagging concerns damaged my overall impression.
The main culprit came from edge haloes, as these cropped up fairly frequently through the movie. The haloes varied in terms of how much they distracted, but they could create a nuisance too much of the time.
The haloes impacted sharpness, especially during wider elements, as they took away from fine detail. Close-ups and two shots fared better and showed pleasing clarity and accuracy.
I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and a decent layer of grain implied an absence of egregious digital noise reduction. In terms of print flaws. I saw a blotch and a couple small specks but nothing major.
The movie’s Technicolor palette worked nicely, as the hues seemed vivid and rich. The Blu-ray brought out the tones in a lively manner most of the time, as only a handful of shots showed slightly iffy colors.
Blacks came across with pleasing depth and richness, and low-light elements offered nice clarity and smoothness. Much of the presentation worked well, but those pesky edge haloes took away a lot of points.
As for the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack it seemed more than competent for its age. Music showed reasonable range, though I thought the score could sound a little thick at times. Still, the musical elements offered fairly good punch.
Dialogue also could sound a little dense, but the lines lacked edginess and remained intelligible. Effects felt accurate enough and lacked distortion. No hiss, hum or other source flaws marred the audio. This was a pretty good soundtrack for its age.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD from 2000? Audio seemed more robust and less noisy, while visuals offered stronger clarity, brighter colors and fewer flaws. Even with my complaints about the image, it still topped the DVD.
Most of the DVD’s extras repeat here, and we launch with an audio commentary from film historian Scott MacQueen. He gives us a running, screen-specific take on the history of the story, other productions of Phanton, details about the making of the picture and basic biographies of many of its participants.
MacQueen packs in a ton of information into the film's 93-minute running time. Altogether he brings a compelling and detailed commentary that provides some excellent information.
MacQueen also functions as the host of The Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked, a 51-minute, 19-second documentary about the film. Actually, that should state "about the films", since the show provides surprisingly little information about the 1943 edition of Phantom itself.
Instead, we get a strong history of the book and the 1925 production plus details about such things as the famous - and still-in-use - set and later Phantoms.
In addition to MacQueen's comments as host, “Opera Ghost” features film historians Paul M. Jensen and Rudy Behlmer, actor/dancer/Universal founder’s niece Carla Laemmle, actors Susanna Foster and Turhan Bey, and Claude Rains' daughter Jessica. We learn a lot about various iterations of Phantom in this informative piece.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a five-minute, 47-second running collection of Production Photographs. It includes posters, publicity shots and images from the set. These weren’t rescanned for Blu-ray so they don’t look as good as they should, but they still provide some interesting elements.
With 100 Years of Universal: The Lot, we find a nine-minute, 25-second featurette that gives us comments from filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Peyton Reed, Ivan Reitman, Peter Berg, John Landis, Ron Howard, Michael Mann, Phil Alden Robinson, and John Carpenter, NBC Universal Archives and Collections director Jeff Pirtle, Universal Studios Hollywood tour guide Molly Orr, and actors Dan Aykroyd, Paul Rudd and Meryl Streep.
This one takes us around the Universal Studios locations and tells us a little about movies made there. What does any of this have to do with Phantom? Very little.
Midway through a short discussion of Universal horror, we get a quick snippet from the film and a reference to the “Phantom Stage” but that’s it, as no one discusses the 1943 flick at all. Despite the featurette’s disconnect from Phantom, it seems pretty fun. While it aims to promote the greatness that is Universal, it’s still light and likable.
The 1943 edition of Phantom of the Opera provides an
intermittently-interesting but generally dull and bloodless retelling of the classic tale. Even the presence of the great Claude Rains can't spice up the proceedings. The Blu-ray offers erratic visuals along with pretty good audio and supplements. Phantom ends up as one of the less memorable of the “major” Universal monster films.